Quick & Easy 7 Day GAPS Diet {Day 1}

​After a long, hard summer it’s time to refocus on healthier food habits. I’m going to be exploring a quick & easy 7 day GAPS diet to reboot my tastebuds and gut, focus on what’s most important and explore the connection between farm food and basic cooking skills. Want to join me? Check back in each day for my simple dishes that can be easily accommodated to family meal time. Here is the start to fresh chicken broth for tomorrow. Simply chicken, onion, real salt, and filtered water.  Start with a boil and decrease to low overnight or up to 24 hours.

Please feel free to add any additional herbs.

Day 1

Breakfast
Warm Lemon Water
Chicken broth with garlic

I’m setting my alarm to wake up early and enjoy some warm lemon water while reading both the book of Ruth (which is a beautiful story of the journey home for a woman after hard times) and the next chapter of Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown.  Another goal is to do some journaling-at least 3 pages as recently recommended by a friend who read about it in The Artists Way.  My intention is to focus on what matters most in life and learn to let go of the rest.

Morning Run

Mid Morning
Detox Tea (Double N Apothecary) with Honey (Summer Garden Memories)

Lunch
Warm Lemon Water
Chicken broth with cooked squash, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic

Mid Afternoon
Chicken Broth

Relaxing Yoga with Adriene

Dinner
Warm Lemon Water with Honey
Chicken broth with shredded chicken and cooked squash, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic

For the Hubby & Kids
​I’ll be preparing a dinner that we can all enjoy as a family.  To keep it simple I’ll add pasta to make chicken noodle soup and serve with an Esters Farm Baked Goods sourdough bread.

The day will end with some reflection and planning for day 2.  Check back in tomorrow for a few more details on my quick and easy 7 day GAPS diet.

Additions for Day Two
Cabbage
Greens (Swiss Chard, Collards, Kale)
Sausage
Beef
Egg Yolks
Kraut

Previous writings on GAPS 
GAPS Diet Stage 1
GAPS {Letting Go}
GAPS {Leaning In}
Please note:  GAPS is normally designed to be worked through over weeks, months or even years.  Working through the stages in 7 days is the best fit for my life right now in order to experience a quick & easy reboot.

Day 2

This photo pretty much represents my feelings towards day 1 (stage 1) of GAPS.  I have a lot to look forward to since I’m going through the 6 stages of the GAPS diet in only 7 days, but day 1 definitely brought back memories of stage 1 GAPS experiences in the past.  Similarly, as I approached the 5pm hour I had a revelation.  I was full.  I had no desire to put another bite of food in my mouth.  This is a real breakthrough in cravings and a reminder that since I’ve put the time in before I’m going to move through with much more ease this time.  When you are full and satisfied life opens up so many opportunities.

Day 1 is always the hardest for me.  Day 2 or day 3 or day 7 may be the hardest for you.  Listen to your own intuition as you power through to take better care of yourself!

Breakfast
Warm Lemon Water
Egg Drop Soup

I’m realizing that I was fairly unrealistic about day 1 of GAPS.  I had included too much to accomplish both in my early morning reading/writing as well as running and yoga.  I did get a bit of yoga in, but running and most of my reading didn’t happen.  I’m recognizing how often I’m unrealistic about expectations and follow that with negative self talk or numbing my feelings with food.  Going to work on that with more realistic expectations for tomorrow.

Mid morning stretching

Mid Morning
Detox Tea (Double N Apothecary) with Honey (Summer Garden Memories)

Lunch
Warm Lemon Water
Chicken broth with meatballs

Mid Afternoon
Chicken Broth

Mid afternoon stretching

Dinner
Warm Lemon Water with Honey
Cabbage with sausage

For the Hubby & Kids
Lots of meatballs and cabbage & sausage to go around!

The day will end with some reflection and planning for day 3.  Check back in tomorrow for a few more details on my quick and easy 7 day GAPS diet.

Additions for Day Three
Almond Butter
Whole Eggs

Day 3

It’s a busy day on the farm and tomorrow I’ll be speaking at a conference. I find it nearly impossible to find a 7 day window where there is not at least a couple of interruptions or commitments that make this difficult.  Sticking to it amongst the distractions helps me make better long term changes.

Breakfast

Warm Lemon Water
Frittata, Broth

Mid Morning
Detox Tea (Double N Apothecary) with Honey (Summer Garden Memories)

Lunch
I’ll be eating out so I’ll need to make sure that I find somewhere with compliant foods.

Mid Afternoon
Chicken Broth

Dinner
Warm Lemon Water with Honey
Almond Butter Pancakes, Fritatta

For the Hubby & Kids
Things get easier as more foods are introduced.  The kids will love the pancakes with maple syrup!

The day will end with some reflection and planning for day 4.  Check back in tomorrow for a few more details on my quick and easy 7 day GAPS diet.

Additions for Day Four
Fresh Juice (thankful for Zest-Juice for Life)

Day 4

I’m speaking at a conference this morning and had I not made the decision to decrease my food options to the most basic farm foods I’m certain I would have stopped at Starbucks on the way-because it’s on the way and it’s fall and all.

​Breakfast
Warm Lemon Water
Frittata, Broth

Mid Morning
Detox Tea (Double N Apothecary) with Honey (Summer Garden Memories)

Lunch
Had the most lovely lunch with a friend with the most delicious omelette.  GAPS really is an easy “eat out” option if you go to the right places!

Mid Afternoon
Kicking Carrot (Zest Juice for Life)

Dinner
Warm Lemon Water with Honey
Taco Soup

The day will end with some reflection and planning for day 5.  Check back in tomorrow for a few more details on my quick and easy 7 day GAPS diet.

Additions for Day Five-Seven
Fresh Apples

​Days Five-Seven

​Breakfast
Warm Lemon Water
Broth

Mid Morning
Detox Tea (Double N Apothecary) with Honey (Summer Garden Memories)

Lunch
Over Easy Eggs, Broth

Mid Afternoon
Apple

Dinner
Detox Tea with Honey
Chicken Soup

The day will end with some reflection and planning for day 6.  Check back in tomorrow for a few more details on my quick and easy 7 day GAPS diet.

Additions for Day Six
Other raw fruits
Nuts
Gluten Free Baked Goods

{Thoughts on Surviving}

What if life is more than simply “staying safe”?

From the moment we are born our instincts for survival kick in-when allowed. Had we been left alone at birth we would have kicked and crawled and cried our way up our mama’s abdomen-keeping ourselves warm and alive-until we found our mother’s breast. I’m increasingly curious about what appears to be the rescue, escape, and distraction that we cling to so strongly in order to escape the instinct for survival.

All seriousness aside as it relates to becoming a civilized society, modern culture, and extending life expectancy-please offer me the opportunity to raise a few questions as it relates to the purpose of survival and overall satisfaction with life. Were we not a culture so often dissatisfied with how we spend our days (going to school, working full time, staying home full time, retired with the “honey do list”) I wouldn’t wonder a bit. But as Barry Schwartz puts it, “The majority of people on the planet to do work that is monotonous, meaningless and soul-deadening” there’s something missing in this thing we call life.

What if we saw our daily work from the lens of very serious daily survival? Just as a baby crawls it’s way to his mama’s breast to find that deep satisfaction his first milk-what if we were willing to work that hard-every day-knowing that our effort provides the pathway to survival: water, food, shelter.

I felt most alive during the most challenging of life experiences. While I surrendered to the natural process of birth the people around me held space as I suffered-and eventually, over time-a baby was born. The same is true as I held space for my dad who was dying from cancer. I didn’t save him, but I did hold space for him to have the most dignified and natural entrance to his enteral life possible. In both situations, no one was stepping in to rescue or distract-rather, the focus was on letting go as the most basic, natural process our bodies were created for took over.

Maybe it’s not our own survival that we are most motivated by, but rather the place in which we end and someone else begins.  Suppose that it’s in that space of connection that real life happens.  That’s where the spark of life that fuels us in all the mundane and monotonous acts of life.  Could that be where our most significant work finds it’s beginning?  The work that not only matters today, but tomorrow and throughout eternity.

What if we wake up every day acutely aware that how we spend our time, the ways we balance acquiring more with using what we have now, and serving those right here in front of us are of the most importance?  The realization that there are no pills to fix us, no rules to protect us.  What we really need is to wake up every morning living such authentic lives that we know deep down to our core that what we eat, how we treat one another, what we prioritize is what makes our lives and benefits those we love the most.

More than anything I want my children to play in such a way that the last thing on their mind is fear. I want them to hop up to me with skinned knee’s and stubbed toes after playing a bit too close to the woods and passionately waving hi to a stranger. I want my family to know that if the day comes and we have to labor for our food and shelter that all will continue to be good. Lord, please help us to dig our feet into the ground here on this earth so that we may be better prepared for our full and rich life that is waiting in eternity.  For that drawing near to you and the freedom you want for us is what we are all really living for-when we recognize it and not.

Healthy food points it’s finger towards farm food…again

There’s a reason why our grandma’s went to their tried and true chicken soup recipe when someone was sick.  Not the Campbell’s soup version, but the good old-fashioned chicken broth kind with slowly simmered chicken and vegetables.  Farm food heals us.  I’m reminded that healthy food points it’s finger back towards farm food each and every time.  Not really certain why I’m surprised, but I suppose it’s the same reason why any of us who have become separated from our local food supply over the last hundred years or so forget that real food = healthy food.

My friend Susan has been diagnosed with cancer.  It’s a hefty dose of reality coming out of the death of my father who was taken from colon cancer a few months ago.  Cancer sucks-can I just say that, please?  Thankfully, my friend Susan is super awesome and ready to fight this thing.  She’s also surrounded by a great medical team and an amazing network of friends.  

Susan recently sent me a list of recommended foods for her upcoming Low-Iodone diet to prepare ahead for treatment:
Beef, Pork, Chicken, Egg Whites (all unsalted-hard to find in the supermarket)
Eggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Winter Squash, Zucchini, Onion, Carrots, Lettuce 

I’m coming out of a 7 day GAPS diet reboot and I was surprised to see how closely her list resembled mine.  It reminds me every time that our bodies were designed to eat simple, healthy, locally grown foods.  When you look at all of the diets that are trendy right now, recommended by doctors, and hugely successful you recognize that fresh, healthy, locally grown foods are on the list.  Take a moment and see for yourself:

Whole 30
Paleo
GAPS
Trim Healthy Mama
​Low-Iodine

Maybe you’ve tried one of those diets in the past and maybe you are just briefly familiar with them.  Almost all of the recommended foods can be grown here in Kentucky.  Great news, right?  Unfortunately, the USDA just released a report that farmers in the US are only growing about half of the required fresh fruits and vegetables recommended.  Makes sense considering most of the crops grown in Kentucky are Corn, Wheat, and Soy.  Shop the center of any grocery store and you’ll notice that all of the processed foods that are available contains some sort of combination of those ingredients.  The amount of diverse fruits and vegetables per capita grown in Kentucky is even lower than 50%.  It concerns me for the immediate health of those with weakened immune systems and other health issues.  It concerns me for the long term health of our children and grand children.

So what can we do?

First and foremost-you can start eating a healthier variety of fresh food from local farmers or even better-join a CSA.  Second, you can support networks of farmers like Community Farmers Market who are building a better food supply.  Third, you can ensure that those farmers continue to grow in numbers and that everyone in our community has better food access.

This is just the beginning of a series of posts that I’ll be sharing on how farm food can heal the body and nurture communities.  

On Monday I’ll join a few other women who will love on and nourish our good friend Susan.  In the kitchen we will cook up fresh farm food in order to prepare low-iodine foods that will prepare Susan for the treatment options she will pursue along with her medical team.  Check back in for photos, recipes and lots of love.

13 Years of Marriage + Community

Thirteen years ago we said, “I do.”  It was a blazing hot day in mid September.  We were betting on something that might last and wanting something that might be better than either of us knew how to hope for back then.  I having been married before came up the aisle determined to make things work.  You having been grounded in your life and work on the farm knew how to make things work no matter the cost.  Together-we’ve lived out the years building up the courage to speak our minds, follow our hearts, do what’s right, and burn our own path. 

You’ve blessed me with four beautiful children-each one wearing your dark brown eyes.  They are a mix and match of the two of us-yet even better as we allow them to grow up to be who they were born to be.  As the years go by we continue giving up parts of ourselves in order to help others find themselves.  Surrounded by inspiring people we pick up new thoughts and ideas we never knew or expected to believe.  This brings me closer to you-you closer to me-in ways that we never knew possible.  Praise God.

I thank you for encouraging me to be myself, to be curious, to stand up for what’s right, to have big feelings.  May I always appreciate you-your quiet, hard working, determined, loving spirit.  As time goes by my desire to support and encourage you increases.  You’ve never asked for that on your own, but I see the need in your eyes.  The need to know that your compassion and willingness to serve so freely can be met with all the things you need in order to keep going.

I love the way our son walks behind you-hands in pockets-dressing like you, acting like you.  You are something to mimic my love.  I love the way our daughters can’t wait to see you even when you’ve only been gone an hour.  The way they prepare in front of the mirror to show you their new dress or pink bow.  The way you sit down with them and read a book each and every time they ask you to-I love that about you.  Never have I met a man who has the ability to stop everything outside of himself in order to fully focus on his children.  You are a rare gift, my love.

You sacrifice quietly yet boldly in ways that no one else but your family (and close friends) see.  The giving up of a career that could have carried you all the way to the top.  The giving up of a growing farm business in exchange for, “just enough”.  The giving up of arrogance and pride in exchange for a humbled appreciation for women, children, the hungry, and marginalized.  While very few know the day to day sacrifices that you make I do and I become a better person as I witness it.  While those around me see what I do for others may they know that it is only because of what I witness in you.  I love you more than I could ever express.  The world is a better place because of you.  May I-until we part-help make your world a better place too.

I see your worn face and you love mine the same.
May our community choose to protect us as we have chosen to love and give unto it. 
My hope is that we find the courage and unity to keep on giving just as we always have. Together.

“Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another as a soul “dies” into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing…”  Wendell Berry

Refugees Welcome {Kentucky}

I was standing at the bus stop.  This would be my very first day of Kindergarten-in a foreign land-and wearing someone else’s clothes.  My blonde hair, blue eyes and southern Kentucky accent made me stand out among the dark haired and skinned kids around me.  I couldn’t understand their language and they were intrigued by mine.  The night before I had walked by myself to the temporary showers that had been set up-two men followed me and I could feel them watching me the entire time.  I closed my eyes and pretended they weren’t there.  I had seen them the day before-standing there on the side of the road-as we were walking back with our food and water.  It was in the dark that I most missed the comfort and safety of my home.  It was here that God first spoke to me.  It was when I began to file away the moments and thoughts of my day in case they might be needed in the future…

I’m still not entirely sure why we were there, but I do know that I was afraid.  In the midst of my fear people showed up.  They offered us food, water, clothing, transportation, translation.  All the things that we had been able to supply for ourselves before.  Those same people continue to keep up with me and care about my life.  They engaged my story and were willing to step into the uncomfortable reality that it had become.

“When we deny our stories, they define us.  When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.”  Brené Brown

I just can’t. I just can’t sit and watch the photos, videos and read the articles without doing anything. I just can’t sit and think to myself, “What if it was my toddler washed up at sea? What if Nathan had to choose between our children-who survived?” I’ve got to stop using the suffering of others as an excuse to apply fear to my own life and in response just ignore the reality of what is happening. Because whether or not I want to believe it-there it is. I’ve seen too much to turn away. My own story connects me to this story in a powerful way.

I’ve had several people ask me how they might be able to help right now as we face the largest refugee crisis since World War II.  Here are a few of my ideas, so far:

1.  Thank Someone

Do something powerful-say “thank you” to someone who is doing more than you can right now.

This is by far the most important thing I’ve done this week.  I’ve reached out to those I know on the front lines here locally and globally and thanked them.  You know why?  Because people who are doing things have to work through shame, ridicule, judgement, and fear.  It doesn’t matter what they are doing, but if they are acting in courage hard work follows.  Your positivity and encouragement may be just what they need to do the next hard thing that’s right in front of them.  

Never underestimate what your support of someone else’s good actions can do.

2.  Feel Something

It can feel like our caring is not enough.  We may look at our own stories and say, “I’ve not suffered like these people I see in photos right now.”  Suffering is suffering.  When we ignore our own suffering it makes it easier to ignore others.  We are a society where we are expected to show up “okay”.  To be feeling something in a big way is just not often allowed.  A baby was washed out of his parents arms and into the depths of the sea to be washed ashore and photographed.  Let’s feel something about that.  Let’s allow his dying not be in shame.  Let’s allow those around us to feel something too.  We can just sit with that for a while before we do anything.  In fact, feeling IS doing.

3.  Do Something

Once we’ve allowed ourselves to feel and we’ve offered space for others to do the same we can look right in front of us and do “just one thing”.  It’ doesn’t have to be big or glamorous or even feel like “enough”.  In fact, it will never feel like enough-so we just have to get started.  Little acts of doing can mean something significant.  Learning to let go of our own selfishness is a good first step.  Taking less from someone who is giving to those with the highest needs is selfless.  Simply teaching our children why we are doing it will mean a more compassionate future for everyone.

4.  Send Something

I’ve been wondering what refugee women are doing about feminine products, diapers, underwear, etc. Here is an easy way to contribute to the Syrian refugees in Greece. Planning to box up items to ship? Ask your friends that are too busy to do the shopping and boxing if they would like to contribute financially if you are able to do the work! It takes us all contributing in any way we can to make a difference. 

Mail to:
Hellenic Postal Office of Mythymna
℅ The Captain’s Table
Molyvos 81108, Lesvos, Greece


ITEMS TO SEND for SYRIAN REFUGEES on GREEK ISLAND OF LESVOS:
Sneakers, gym shoes for men, women and children (all sizes) are a HIGH PRIORITY
Sweatpants of all sizes.
Briefs/underwear for men, women and children (all sizes)
Men’s trousers (small, medium and large) and shoes
Baby powder milk
Any non-perishables like nut butters or other long-lasting foods.
Diapers
Feminine products
Sleeping bags
Plastic to cover the floor/for shade
Tents/tarpaulin
Mats (camping or yoga mats)
Hats and caps for sunshade (adults and children/light colours because of the sun)
Electric Plug for multiple devices (european voltage)
*Information provided above was made available by Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

5.  Give Locally

One of the best ways to help locally is to keep doing the selfless acts you are already doing, but maybe with a little more compassion and a slightly better attitude.  Keep engaging the things that you are passionate about even when they get tough.  Things are going to get hard, you are going to fall, you are going to want to give up, but please-find the courage to get back up.  Know you are not alone.

Locally, we can say THANK YOU to the City of Bowling Green for not only welcoming refugee’s into our community, but for providing resources for them.  I can consider ways to support those who are helping refugees assimilate as soon as possible to Kentucky so that we may be able to make room for more people who are fleeing for safety. We CAN make a difference:

Donate to the International Center
Donate to The Foundry
Support the Double Dollar program or volunteer your time at CFM
Support Running for KY Refugees (my friend Sarah Wichman)
Donate to school resource centers

The recent photos and stories coming out of those fleeing Syria for safety have put a fire in our belly.  Let’s take a moment and thank about “what’s next”.  What happens when people are relocated?  Rather than continuing with systems of displacement let’s consider how we might create entirely new systems of self support.  One way you can do that is by supporting small-scale, start up businesses at the International Festival on September 26th.  By supporting current successes we model pathways to opportunity that others can duplicate.  Engage the stories of real people living right here in our community.  Put your dollars there.

I have serious concerns about the inaction of our communities, neighborhoods, churches, and organizations.  I do not have all the answers, but I do know that we have problems here on our soil.  When we disengage (as we have) we hand over complete control to our governments, deplete our own food supplies, stop talking to our neighbors, ignore those who are suffering, and in general become a numbed out nation-filling our need for connection with drugs, alcohol, TV, internet and shopping.  Our fear allows us to make excuses for all the reasons we aren’t doing enough-or anything.  It concerns me.  The only way to change things is to first change ourselves and then make things better around us.  It might be as simple as asking someone how you can help.  Some of the most passionate people doing the best work are doing so because someone helped them get started.

What’s happening globally reminds me of the need to create stronger local systems that meet the needs of ourselves and those we welcome here.
 
6.  Live Authentically

I know now (maybe I always knew) that I was building up for “such a time as this”.  Living authentically-engaging the normal processes of life:  birth, parenting, eating, communicating, death was never about personal decisions or outcomes, but rather about who I was becoming during the process.  One of the most important ways that I live authentically is by intentionally surrounding myself with people who are compassionate.  My Facebook feed, my daily conversations, my relationships are MOST often full of people who care and take action on it.  It becomes the commitment I make to living authentically and filtering out the rest.  As Glennon Doyle Melton says, “not my circus-not my monkeys”.  If the only thing I do in times of crisis is look around me and say, “in what ways am I feeding the monkeys” then I have made a decision to live authentically.

I tell my story because it’s why I feel passionate about refugees.  It’s hard.  It’s painful.  I’ll have to answer to those who say I didn’t suffer enough or to those who choose hate over love or those who think I am shaming them.  There is a place of connection deep inside me that gives me the ability to keep getting back up even when things get tough.  

I’d love to hear your story-I bet that it is leading you right to the place where you are needed most.  

{Thoughts on Truth Telling}

Truth telling for me is the ability to place consistent healthy boundaries in your life while saying no to opportunities that require you to make any excuse for not speaking your truth.  I’ve learned this the hard way and slowly over time.  Saying yes to our powerful truth is more difficult than it seems.

For example, MOST people are in jobs, relationships, religious organizations, family settings, social circles, or neighborhoods that keep them from fully expressing their own truth.  They might believe something to be true, but don’t want to rock the boat or not go with the flow.  They don’t want to become THAT person.

Children are most often truth tellers-until they are taught what’s appropriate to say (believe) and what gets you ahead.

Truth telling requires a constant stepping down the “ladder of success” while clinging to your integrity and remaining capable of engaging others with respect even when you disagree.  It’s tough stuff, friends.  

Speaking of friends-most truth tellers I know find that their most loyal friends are also truth tellers.

From what I’ve witnessed and experienced-truth tellers can appear to make enemies fast.  They spark fear and intimidation in those who have lived their entire adult lives avoiding truth.  They threaten the status quo and the comfortable lives we were promised or think we deserve.  They make people think.  In general, we as a culture-we don’t really like to think much.

Authentic, meaningful truth telling is almost always-ALWAYS-about the common good, the marginalized, the hurting, those suffering and all the hard stuff of this world.  

Anything else is simply a version of a truth that benefits only one person or group of people.  Shedding light on THAT TRUTH is both painful to self and offensive to others.  Most people (myself included) just can’t always gather the strength to persevere.  Sometimes it’s just easier not to think.

The great truth tellers feel more like heroes to the masses once they are no longer a threat.  Francis of Assisi, Anne Hutchinson, and Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind.  While they were alive and present and speaking their strong truths they were just “too much” for most people to handle at the time.  Today, I think of Micky Scottbey JonesBrené Brown, and Richard Rohr who are working out their truth while beautifully facing the suffering that comes with it.  I can think of people closer to home too, but I know their suffering first hand-so I won’t.

Truth tellers are completely different than traitors although the two seem to get confused.  Telling a truth for the sole purpose of personal gain or to recklessly hurt someone else doesn’t really line itself up with truth telling to me.  

Truth telling is not what slips off the end of your tongue or out the end of your fingertips.  The truth tellers I know agonize over their truth.  It rolls around in their heads and hearts until they can’t contain it anymore.  They carefully run it through people with dignity first.  They wait until the truth becomes something worth mentioning.  They wait until the truth becomes a risk worth taking.

Truth tellers must make decisions with extra thought and care in order to ensure that they protect their ability to continue sharing the truth.  This can mean that they are unable to keep their job or are forced to set boundaries that are hard.  This gives truth tellers the ability to share their stories openly with the world and with fervor.  They are the listeners, the engagers, the peacemakers that help connect the dots and make authentic connection possible for those looking for it.

These truth tellers often suffer alone because they alone were called to carry the burden of their truth.  Other times they are surrounded by other truth tellers who provide support and encouragement.  The people around them rarely notice the difference.

Truth telling means all the more to a mother and farmer like me.  The rights of womanhood, infants, farmers, makers, and struggling communities have become hard to come by-because in the simplicity of who they are-they do not produce what we as society have come to respect and expect.  

Silence from a mother and farmer like myself often feels much more respected and expected.

Simply having the privilege of stating this truth-right here, right now-is a reflection of a constant giving away of opportunity in my life.  The saying no to “good” things that could have stolen my truth.  Thankfully-even better opportunity that serves more people is always around the bend.

I’m forever thankful for the truth tellers in my life.  They help me find my truth.  They give me the strength to share it.  

{Thoughts on The Question}

One of the most important things I’ve done as a mother is to ask my children this question.  

“Is there anything mama is doing right now that hurts you?”  

I’m not sure where I even got the idea, but I am certain that it has forever strengthened my relationship with them and others.  It actually goes against anything I experienced as a child with the adults in my life and produces results that are both challenging and life changing.  

It’s become a key to the hearts of my kids-particularly to the areas that I have hurt, but still have time to make changes that will heal, nurture, protect.

It has taught me to accept criticism for the areas of my life that could improve.  “Lilah, is there anything that mama is doing right now that hurts you?”  Lilah, “You sometimes hurt my feelings when you are on the computer and do not answer my questions.”  Ouch.  It’s true.  By listening to her feelings I’m able to dig deep into my own feelings about things that I already know are a problem, but haven’t had the motivation to change.  We’re also able to work on positive solutions such as, “Mama has to get work done and my work is often on the computer.  What if you play with Adaline while I finish up here and then you and I can spend some quality time together later?”

My own selfishness has risen up time and time again.  For example, my kids love to make me things.  For years I wasn’t very welcoming of the large volume of arts, crafts, and treasures that they would provide for me.  One time when I was asking Elizabeth the question she answered, “I worked really hard on making you a flower corsage and I had hoped you would wear it.”  Ugh.  She was right and I knew it.  How hard would it be for me to simply accept her gift and see the sacrifice of time and loads of love that she put into it.  Why couldn’t I love that gift just like I love her-because through her creation it is her.

It’s helped me grow as a mother at the same pace that my children of different ages are growing.  For example, “Carter (age 4) is there anything mama is doing right now that hurts you?”  Carter, “You tell me that you will hold me during nap time, but most of the times you don’t.”  Years later the same question gets a very different answer from Carter (age 11).  “I don’t always want you to touch or hug me in public.  I’d like us to set aside a special time each night where you hug or hold me, but only when I feel like it.”  Asking the question helps me to know how my growing children have very different needs than the little ones.

In fact, my littlest little always answers the question with, “Mama-I love you.  You are perfect”.  One day though.  One day she’ll start to answer that questions with real hurts and I want to be prepared for that.

It offers me the opportunity to explain my decisions and behavior rather than leaving them feeling alone or neglected.  For example, during busy seasons of life when I am just not as tentative and available I’ve learned to use this as a tool to open up communication so that they understand what I can change and what I cannot.   I have deep seeded memories of feeling alone as a child-when the reality is that the adults in my life were most likely just busy with something that was very important.  Had I known the truth I would have been able to form a much better self image and healthier internal messages.  I may have even been able to be involved in a positive solution.

Asking my children to verbally express how they are seeing, feeling, and experiencing the world helps me get to know them better and most importantly teaches them to express their feelings while listening to others.  Because of this habit I believe my kids are much more open to me when I suggest habits or behaviors that they could improve.  It’s not magic, but the question has been something that I cling to in order to love my family better.

Practically speaking-I don’t think too much about when and where I’ll ask the question.  I just wait until the time is right-when I sense that there is this pushing or pulling happening between me and them.  I don’t act too serious or “mom” like.  That said, my best advice is to always, always have your heart ready for the answer.  It’s hard to hear that you might have done something to hurt someone else (especially your children), but living life and never having the opportunity to change it or do something about it would be unbearable.  It’s not about being the perfect mom-it’s about being open to my imperfections and being willing to change the ones that hurt the most.

Introducing Double N Apothecary

We are so excited to be announcing a partnership with Nicole Mattingly, owner of Double N Apothecary.  Together we will be offering our farm members a full line of apothecary products including:  teas, tinctures, salves, oils, cleansers and more.  We’ve enjoyed using all natural, locally produced products for years and we are excited about this opportunity to share it with you. Nicole’s business is “small batch” and she uses the finest ingredients.  We will be sourcing as many of the products for Nicole’s products as possible.  You can learn more about Double N Apothecary HERE.

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Nicole Mattingly is an herbalist, farmer, and plant magic maker in Nashville, TN. She is devoted to wellness and the healing power of plants through nutrition, ritual, self-care, folk medicine, and simple practices that ground us to the Earth. She makes  products with herbs grown organically on her farm whenever possible. Nicole studied under the Wise Woman traditions and now provides herbal preparations and consultations to others.

Back home at The Foundry {Heirloom TomatoFest 2015}

I loved my time volunteering at The Foundry.  It was about five years ago and our family had become involved in several areas of ministry and community engagement in the West Side of Bowling Green.  It was a privileged time in my life that offered me the ability to pack up snacks once a week and head to The Foundry to help care for gardens that we had planted alongside volunteers from Broadway United Methodist Church and Community Farmers Market.  The relationships that we built forever changed the way I look at the food system barriers here in South Central, Kentucky.  It was the inspiration and motivation to ensure that my work is always split between growing and marketing good food as well as creating better food access.  It was where I started finding my voice by listening to others.
It was a peaceful time, but also a very difficult time of transition.  I had become a stay at home mom a few years before and quickly learned to scratch the “stay” and replace it with “work”.  For the previous years I had taken several part-time jobs.  The WIC program helped us make ends meet just like it does for many of the people who live in the West Side of Bowling Green.  I can still remember being very pregnant with Adaline and wearing Lilah on my back while doing wedding flowers for long days.  We were thankful for the opportunities, but it was a hard, hard time.  There’s something to be said for the working many people do in order to outrun the shame of financial insecurity.  It effects every area of your life.

This time in my life was a powerful teacher as I considered the many obstacles and barriers to healthy food-for my family and for others.  It prepared me for what work on the farm would be like and helped connect me to the many people in our community who have to work like that just to survive.  It reminded me of where I came from and encouraged me to never forget.  

As the kids got older I realized that my work needed to be more intertwined into their everyday life if we were to continue homeschooling.  Nathan’s income from heirloom tomatoes and watermelon were helping us find better footing financially.  The kids and I started a mixed garden in hopes of starting a CSA the following year.  The older kids and I would set up at CFM every Saturday with whatever we could piece together-herbs, crayon cars, soaps.  We have been blessed beyond measure to be able to follow our calling and put the hard work into something we are passionate about-together as a family.

This coming together with fellow farmers + makers at Community Farmers Market and being engaged at The Foundry created memories I will always be thankful for.  I love these people offering what they have when they have it to the people right there in front of them.  When everyone is doing their part and allowing others to do theirs-beautiful things happen.  That has been my experience time and time again.  The work and coming together isn’t about yourself, but about the possibility that is being created.  The people who have given so much of themselves-either on our farm, at CFM, The Foundry, or one of the many other community organizations and agencies remind me that all of these seemingly small efforts add up to something very significant. 

The tomato-a fruit (or vegetable if you prefer) becomes something we celebrate.  This gives me hope that all fresh fruits and vegetables being grown here in Kentucky will continue to be celebrated.  Fresh food makes strong and healthy communities.  Supporting local farmers makes strong and healthy communities.  We owe it to ourselves to put the work into making it so.  

Another year.  Another Heirloom TomatoFest.  We are honored to be welcomed back to The Foundry this year just as we were last year.  There’s something special about this place, this season.  It very much feels like bringing the celebration of the Heirloom Tomato back HOME. It’s a reminder of how blessed we’ve been by each of you and how thankful we are for those who support our farm, Community Farmers Market and the many partners who are working hard to make local food available to everyone.  I believe that this is just the beginning.

Join us Thursday August 20th at The Foundry.  5-7 pm.  531 West 11th Avenue Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101.

{Thoughts on Big Kids “aka” pre-teens}

How is it that we’ve taken every moment of the human experience that involves hormonal changes and saturated it with humiliation, fear, disconnection?  Birth, menopause, death, and especially adolescence. 

ad·o·les·cence

the period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.

To know what is happening to our bodies is to give power to our lives.  I’ve seen this over and over again as women empower themselves with the knowledge they need in order to have a better birth experience, breastfeed and bond well with baby.  I’ve also heard of women going through menopause who do so with grace because of the knowledge that allowed them to move through it with patience and wisdom.  I witnessed this with the natural leaving of the body my dad experienced with in home hospice care.  My hope is to apply this same consciousness of humanity to the lives of my children as they approach, experience, and move into the other side of puberty. 

How cruel it really is-if we are to take some time to stop and think-that we take everything about the process of puberty and turn it into a joke.  I believe that many of us are still walking around with a cloud of shame that was placed on us during these sensitive, hormone infused years.  Were it not for the negative stereotypes placed on teens as well as the over sexualization of our society I believe that both parents and teens would approach the experience very differently.  

I am dedicated to approaching these pre-teen and teen years with the same level of consciousness, clarity and concern as I did when my children were moving through their newborn, toddler and little kid experiences.  Because it is after all THEIR only opportunity to experience each one.  When I focus too much on the fact that it’s MY only time to experience it with them I lose my ability to mother while modeling compassion.  For me, that has meant that the same level of effort that goes into bonding with a newborn must be put into the gradual and intentional detachment from my older kids.

Just as I have slowly learned to more selflessly embrace the separateness that Nathan and I often experience as we get the work finished here on the farm I must also embrace-with respect-the distancing that occurs as my children are physically becoming adults.  During the busiest seasons I’ve learned to savor the look, the kiss, the early morning or late night conversation so that I’m able to overcome the silence or distance in a way that serves Nathan.  The same respect serves me well as I apply it to the savoring of a brief hug, a good laugh, and the fewer “I love you’s” that come from these growing kids of mine.

I’m still working through how this is practiced throughout my day.  I can welcome the space that Carter needs with love.  I can be there for long talks about feelings, emotions, and self-control when Elizabeth needs it.  I can create even more space within my day so that when the moment comes up I’m ready.  More than anything I’m learning that I can trust my instincts through this just as I can in any other part of my womanhood.

Each and every day these beautiful children are moving outside of my circle.  My circle of physical care, personal attention, and influence.  As this circle-my nest-becomes too small for them their very own circle begins to expand.  When I allow that process to happen as naturally as possible they gain the courage to build something for themselves.   In that space they begin to learn more about who they are and understand the world for themselves. They are creating their own private and sacred spaces that are expanding and growing wildly so that they can one day welcome someone else into it. 

I can choose to have a healthy perspective on this new experience.  With thankfulness I can acknowledge how blessed I am that my children are healthy and given the experience of tomorrow.  I can accept that as they grow they are offering me new spaces that are just for myself.  In doing so I believe that I am developing the maturity and wisdom that I’m hopeful my kids will welcome into their life as they become adults.